Sokhary Chau's Response to the Arts & Culture Questionnaire

Personal Connection

1. In what personal manner are you currently supporting the creative community?  Can you list the last two cultural events you attended that were not a campaign opportunity? 

My wife and I support the tradition of preserving the dance and music of the Khmer Community.  I have engaged the Angkor Dance Troupe members in several community events, especially with Virginia Prak, one of their lead dancers.  We recently attended their annual fundraising performance. 

We also are encouraging young artists and are hoping for more street and public art both downtown and in the neighborhoods.  I will work for more public opportunities for local residents to display their art in the City.  We also routinely attend the Western Avenue Artist Studios Saturday events.  I also recently attended a classic “old 45’s” music event at UnchARTed. 

2. How will you work to support and grow the creative economy in Lowell?  

As a Councilor, I will work to have the City Manager work with the City Departments to bring these aspects to support the creative economy into the planning process for City projects.  Whether small artist collectives or support for scaling light manufacturing or creative concepts, I will support City funding in this area. We also need to support creative areas or zones, and financially support businesses that allow our artists to show their works and to grow their recognition. 

Growing the creative economy in Lowell is good for all our citizens and our tax base.   

3. How can the city incorporate arts into the city design and planning process?

Just as we have incorporated concepts like Complete Streets into the process, we can also incorporate standards and requirements that create an environment that support the creative economy and the arts.  New developments and projects should be also reviewed by organizations such as COOL and others who can offer suggestions to the Planning Board and developers as they process their project.  The City needs to incentivize developers to consider and include the arts with the architects and design teams.  Also, we can see if any other communities, like Somerville, have policies or ordinances that support this. 

4. How can the city support more public art initiatives? 

In addition to the Mass Arts Council, the City should be making a financial commitment to developing the arts.  This can be supplementing the State money or leading the way to involve the private sector to support the arts.  We need to look at other cities to see what public art initiatives were successful and incorporate some of their successes into Lowell.  Lowell is ready for the next step….and a bigger step forward for public art! 

City Investment in the Arts

5. Do you believe the art and creative community positively impacts our local economy? How?

Definitely.  Not only is it good for new creative activities, but it is also creating a vibe and culture that is attractive to new residents and visitors.  It helps define us to improve the quality of life and therefore help keep our property values and new enterprises successful.   

6. Will you commit to increasing the investment in the arts and cultural community in Lowell by supporting motions that increase funding to that community?

Definitely, Yes. I will be a lead Councilor for this effort.   

Diversity & Inclusion in Arts & Culture

7. What is your opinion about the current cultural landscape in Lowell and how can we make it more inclusive?

I believe you can make it more inclusive through improving the City’s processes for outreach.  The City also has to also be “creative” to make sure we are reaching out to new residents of different cultures and ages.  We need to include all segments of the City into the appreciation for the arts.  We can’t keep reaching out the same way and expect to be successful. 

8. Can you provide examples of how you do and would integrate the arts, culture, and creative community in ways that would support the racial, ethnic, socioeconomic diversity and youth?  

I would propose to organize a community meeting among those already involved in this effort.  I would request the City and Councilors to attend and listen to the suggestions of the present status of evolving art, cultural preservation, and creative ways to improve our appreciation of these issues.  Again, the process has to be different in that serious thought and action has to go into how you do good outreach and bring our residents into the topic. 

Then, I would propose we agree on an action plan and collectively work together to be successful.  This would be best done in cooperation with the Lowell Schools, especially the High School.  We should also involve the many agencies serving our community to use their network of communication and trust to reach out to those who do not usually get asked to participate.

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